The Brewers announced today that right-hander Jose Urena cleared outright waivers and has elected free agency. The 30-year-old will now head out onto the free market, able to pursue opportunities with all 30 clubs in the league.
Urena began his big league career with the Marlins, working primarily as a starter. He had some solid seasons in Miami, with 2018 arguably marking the high point of his career. In 174 innings that season, he managed an ERA of 3.98, along with an 18.3% strikeout rate and 7.2% walk rate. In the estimation of FanGraphs, he was worth 1.6 wins above replacement that year. Things fell off from there, however, as his ERA went north of 5.00 in each of the next three seasons, two of those with Miami and then one in Detroit.
The Brewers signed Urena at the end of March, with only about a week until the season was set to begin. He appeared in four games this season, logging 7 2/3 innings. He got some decent results, with a 3.52 ERA in that small sample, but he managed only a 8.3% strikeout rate. Urena’s always been more of a ground ball guy, but that rate was low even compared to his previous work. His 13.9% walk rate was also higher than in any previous season.
That’s an exceptionally small sample size, but the Brewers evidently saw enough to move on, as Urena didn’t survive the rosters shrinking from 28 to 26 last week. He was designated for assignment but, as a player with more than five years of MLB service time, he had the ability to reject an outright assignment in favor of free agency, which he has now done. His fastball was averaging above 96 MPH in his brief action this year, which could lead another team to take a flier on him in some capacity.